Joe Lovano Us Five-Folk Art
Reviews by Willard Manus

Joe Lovano is, in a word, amazing. At 59, the multi-award-winning sax player is still pushing the boundaries of jazz--exploring, experimenting, hooking up with risk-taking young players. A case in point is FOLK ART, his latest (and 21st!) record for Blue Note. Fronting a new quintet comprised of James Weidman, (piano); Esperanza Spalding (bass); Otis Brown III and Francisco Mela (drummers), Lovano leads the way on a variety of reed instruments (including an aulochrome, a "double-soprano saxophone"). He composed all of the CD's nine tracks, utilizing a wide spectrum of colors, harmonies and feelings in free-flowing fashion, creating some of the most sumptuous, probing and magical sounds I've ever heard. Lovano calls it "folk music." I call it great music.


Joe Lovano is also featured on bassist John Patitucci's latest Concord Jazz project, REMEMBRANCE. Patitucci wrote eleven original compositions for the CD, each one of which pays tribute to one of his jazz heroes--such as Thelonius Monk, John Coltrane, Freddie Hubbard, Sonny Rollins and Michael Brecker. Patitucci distills the essence of their musical gifts in deft, original fashion, acknowledging rather than imitating their achievements.

REMEMBRANCE was recorded live in studio with a minimum of overdubs and none of the players listening through headphones. Patitucci wanted and got a warm, organic sound from his musicians (Lovano and drummer Brian Blades, occasionally joined by Rogerio Boccato (percussion) and/or Sachi Patituci (cello).

The range of music explored here is quite astounding. Each track is different from the last: "Monk/Trane" is quirky and catchy; "Sonny Side" recalls Rollins's expansive, probing side; "Joe Hen" incorporates the fiery, hard-bop sound of that great tenor sax player. Each composition is allowed to run its course ("Joe Hen" clocks in at 7:45), which means the musicians have lots of harmonic and rhythmic time to improvise. On the final cut, though, Patitucci's haunting homage to the late Michael Brecker runs a mere 1:54. Using a 6-string electric piccolo bass, then a 6-string electric bass, Patatucci proves once again the truth of the old adage that less is more.


Fans of sleek, sophisticated Afro-Cuban jazz should check out ELEGANCE, the latest CD by Yorgis Goiricelaya. The youthful musician shows off his impressive composing, arranging and bass-playing chops on this generous release (13 sides in all). Recorded in various locations around the USA, the disc features four original tunes by Goiricelaya, plus standards by Moises Simons, Jaco Pastorius and Martha Valdes--the latter's ballad Tu No Sospechas is sung in dreamy fashion by Isaac Delgado.

About half the tunes on ELEGANCE generate jazz heat--especially Blue, which is led in rousing fashion by Aldo Salvent on sax and Osmany Paredes on piano. The other tunes are on the cool, restrained side--think MJQ playing Latin jazz.

As drummer and conguero Hilario Bell comments, Goiricelaya wanted something different this time around, something "elegant, a collection of many musical genres but giving it a touch of modern fused sounds. These are rhythms that are up to date...keeping the principal ingredient in mind, the bass, a melodic instrument."

The aptly titled ELEGANCE comes with a 40-minute DVD comprised of studio footage and interviews with Goiricelaya and his illustrious musicians. Parts of the DVD were recorded in Cuba. (